Recognizing Jesus

It seems the more we know someone the greater our ability is to recognize them.

So how about recognizing Jesus?

We all recognize this picture, right? It hangs on walls around the world and it’s probably the most recognizable depiction of Jesus we have.


by Warner Sallman (1940)

How bout this picture? This is a classic depiction of Jesus from a movie in the 70’s.


Jesus of Nazareth movie (1977)

These are honest attempts, and really our best efforts at reproducing what Jesus could’ve looked like.

But would we be surprised, maybe even caught off guard, if we went back into time and saw what He actually looked like? Would we even recognize Him? That’s a good question.

Popular Mechanics published an article, in 2002, in which some forensic scientists from the UK teamed up with Israeli archaeologists; and they took a skull from that time period and reconstructed an image of what the typical Jew would have looked like in the day of Jesus.

They called it “The Real Face of Jesus.”


Popular Mechanics (2002)

Now I wouldn’t call it the “The Real Expression of Jesus.” This one here looks a little bewildered. But quite possibly this is a depiction of the face. Jesus was a Jew, you know. And from the skeletal remains, they established that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus was 5 ft. 1 in., with an average weight of about 110 pounds. Interesting to think of our Jesus as a little middle-eastern man! And they said that since Jesus worked outdoors and was a carpenter, it is reasonable to assume that he was more muscular and physically fit than westernized portraits suggest. His face was probably weather-beaten, which would have given him an older appearance as well.

So again this is one attempt of many.

Some people will depict a African-looking Jesus…


Some people depict a Chinese Jesus…


Some people depict a Blue-Eyed Jesus… a European Jesus…


But aside from appearance alone…

  • Would we recognize Him if He walked up to us today?
  • Would we know Him if He walked into a room?
  • How well do we sense His presence in our life today?

I’m speaking spiritually, of course. I’m speaking primarily of our DISCERNMENT.

I believe as we grow in relationship with Jesus that our sensitivity to Him and the way He does things can sharpen with time. And our ability to seize the moment will, by-and-large, depend upon our ability to detect Him in our life. Or will He walk on by largely unrecognized?

Someday if the tape of our life were replayed I think we would blush to see that Jesus was all over the place and we never even realized it. I think He shows up in our life all the time – different times, different ways, by the moving of His Spirit. How aware are we going to be?

I wanna be more aware of Him than I am. When He moves in a certain way, I don’t wanna be oblivious. Normal days and unmomentous moments can slip by unappreciated, while Jesus, all the while, was there trying to get my attention and do something special in my life. Opportunities are missed and lessons go unlearned when Jesus goes unrecognized.  And I would venture to say for those who recognize Him, it wouldn’t be His appearance that would tip them off; there are the intangibilities that come with knowing someone over a long period of time. I want to know Jesus more. I want to recognize Him in my life.

The Bible actually has a lot to say about this.

So for the rest of the week I plan to share biblical examples about Recognizing Jesus… 

  1. Those who did
  2. Those who didn’t
  3. And the difference between the two.

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